I last watched a James Cagney film eight years ago, and I really should have seen many more since then, because Cagney was boss.
The story is about a convict who escapes, killing a fellow convict in the process, and the subsequent crime spree he embarks on. There are dames involved of course, one of them the sister of the convict he killed (unbeknownst to her), and the other the daughter of a tycoon. There are also dirty cops, a bank robbery, and the heist of a large payroll, and it is all told as a flashback during the trial of all those involved in the heist.
The story is quite involved, but a bit patchy in places with scenes that didn’t really make sense. The ending too just came abruptly, but it was engaging, mostly because of James Cagney who was fantastic. He doesn’t look like a leading actor, but when he puts on a menacing gangster face he is very chilling, he also seemed very confident on screen. And no one can sneer like he could.
I will watch a few more films of his first, but I have pretty much decided he deserves to go on the MBMS Page of Fame.
This film was banned in Ohio because it was “a sordid, sadistic presentation of brutality and an extreme presentation of crime with explicit steps in commission.” It was quite violent for the times I suppose, the cold-blooded killing of the other convict at the start was a surprise, and Cagney’s sneering and bullying was probably quite overwhelming for some in at the time (1950) too.
“White Heat” often comes up as the best Cagney film on the internet, so I am looking forward to watching it soon. In fact, I may make it my 200th film this year, it sounds very worthy.
Date watched: December 11th
Score: 8/10 (mostly Cagney)
Film count 2016: 194